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‘Silent leader’ Hodel excelling early on for Dickinson State wrestling

According to his coaches, senior Taylor Hodel isn't exactly the talkative type.Rather, he's gotten his message across by wrestling. In which case, he's been pretty loud thus far.Hodel, who has finished in the top three in the Dickinson State wres...

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Dickinson State senior wrestler Taylor Hodel (blue shirt) runs with the rest of the DSU team during a practice Thursday at Weinbergen Hall on DSU’s campus. (Press Photo by Colton Pool)
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According to his coaches, senior Taylor Hodel isn’t exactly the talkative type.
Rather, he’s gotten his message across by wrestling. In which case, he’s been pretty loud thus far.
Hodel, who has finished in the top three in the Dickinson State wrestling team’s three tournaments thus far with one first-place finish, will be an anchor for the Blue Hawks when they compete in two duals today against Montana State-Northern at 5 p.m. and Great Falls at 7 p.m. at Scott Gymnasium.
“It’s pretty monumental, actually,” Hodel said. “We’re going to have to come out firing and swinging, and just hope that we finish out on top.”
In his season so far, Hodel has won the Missouri Valley Invite, been third at the Hastings Open and runner-up in the Midlands Open.
Blue Hawks head coach Justin Schlecht said Hodel has done all the right things in terms of watching his weight, being effective in the weight room and focusing on technique.
“He’s always been that way, but I think he pushed himself even harder this season,” Schlecht said. “He’s really driven, focused and has tunnel vision, which is good.”
His improvement is an impressive thought considering that he was one match away from being an NAIA All-American, Schlecht said.
And now at 165 pounds, Hodel is hoping to make good on that improvement this season by winning that defining match.
“I think he’s got all the tools to do that,” Schlecht said. “His focus is there to do those sort of things, definitely.”
And although he’s not the most vocal of the bunch, Schlecht said, Hodel is the silent leader of the team.
“Taylor’s not one that’s always out there hooting, hollering and getting after guys, but at the same time, they look out of the corner of their eyes at Taylor,” Schlecht said. “He does a good job with that too.”

And to DSU student-assistant coach Tyler Brown, Hodel’s leadership by example is what makes him stick out.
Brown, who wrestled with Hodel two years ago at Sacramento (Calif.) City College, said he developed a relationship with Hodel, though they knew of each other wrestling in high school in California.
Now they’re roommates - maybe another reason why Brown thinks Hodel’s quiet nature is nice.
“He’s a really good guy and is really relaxed, which I like about him,” Brown said. “This year, he really seemed to pick up the tempo and get really serious.”
A Dixon, Calif., native, Hodel is majoring in history so he can someday become a history teacher and coach wrestling. But right now, Schlecht thinks Hodel is a “student of the game” because of his exemplary technique, although Schlecht still hopes Hodel can gain more strength.
“He’s very consistent and reliable,” Schlecht said. “We know that when Taylor is putting on his ankle band, we’re going to get an excellent effort. He’s going to go out there and wrestle 7 minutes, and it’s going to be a good 7 minutes. That’s really nice. We don’t have to ride that roller coaster of that being a good match and maybe the next one not. That’s not how Taylor wrestles or performs.”
Hodel said that although he and his teammates go at it in practice - one athlete’s teeth were knocked out, another’s head was split open and another’s eye was split open all on Wednesday - like a family, they come back together on good terms after practice.
That, Hodel said, is a sign of maturity.
“Being a guy that is older and giving the example for other guys to look up to,” Hodel said, “that’s something I want to project for years to come, obviously. So being that leader and role model is a good start to eventually being a coach and dealing with that angle of how wrestling should be dealt with and how you should deal with wrestling in general.”
And in his last year, Hodel said he wants to set the standard for his teammates not only so they can they can become better, but also because he knows his college wrestling days will soon be over.
But quietly, he’s relishing the time he has left.
“It’s all pretty crazy doing things like lifting weights, wrestling or running and thinking to yourself ‘This could be the last time that I do that,’” Hodel said. “Seeing things as the last time is all pretty great. It’s a great feeling and nice to know that all the work you’ve put in over the years is finally paying off.”

Related Topics: BLUE HAWKS
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